This post was written by Ohio teacher Brian Page @FinEdChat

 

The curriculum ladder

 

As teachers, we are all feeling the squeeze of tough economic times. States have cut education funding for a number of reasons. We are taking the cuts personally because we live a profession that strikes at the core of our values. Every child deserves a fair shot, regardless of the zip code where they were born. Our system should serve as the ladder to provide every child in the country a tool to climb to whatever heights they aspire to reach. Yet we continue to cut away one step after another.

 

Developing across the country are programs and legislation that prioritize cost-cutting measures rather than put kids first. The world’s most respected educational minds stress the importance of art, music, foreign languages, and gifted instruction opportunities, especially in the elementary grades. Yet these subjects are experiencing deep cuts in all grades, and in some cases disappearing all together. So while we are fighting just to keep every step in the ladder, we are losing sight of the additional steps we need to add to keep pace with the adult demands of modern society. Mastering financial literacy is a necessary step out of poverty for some and into adulthood for everyone.

 

Did you know…

 

• We are asking our children to make one of the biggest debt choices of their lives while still in high school, student debt. Student debt has now surpassed credit card debt – - it is $1 trillion. Yet in 46 states kids are unlikely to be introduced to resources like this one and this one to help them make an informed college choice.

 

• Lots of high school students have jobs and pay taxes, but they don’t know how to fill out basic tax forms or file for themselves. It is time we begin integrating resources like this one so they understand their taxes.

 

• According to this research, the biggest mistake low-moderate income (LMI) Americans make is they do not have any emergency savings. They do not use any basic banking services such as a direct deposit or a saving account. It baffles me that we do not teach our kids the importance of savings, or the power of compound interest using resources like this one.

 

• Many high school students are purchasing cars on their own, without any direction or understanding of the total financial obligation. We owe it to them to provide resources like this so they can make informed choices.

 

• Of those who carry a balance on their credit card from one billing cycle to the next, the average credit debt is $15,418. When our high school students turn 18, they are eligible for a credit card (with a co-signer), and if used wisely, it can be a great tool for them to build their credit score. If used inappropriately, it can ruin their lives. It is time we start to teach kids to understand credit card solicitations and their credit bills using resources like this one.

 

• A lot of our high school students have trouble figuring out what career field would be a good fit for them. Resources like this one are very helpful, and we owe it to them to expose them to this information.

 

Each resource makes up the framework for an important step in the education ladder missing in 46 states. Yet the research is clear that there is a direct link between inequality and financial literacy. Equally as clear is a message from our parents. A resounding 93% of parents wish to see financial literacy courses taught in high school.

 

I want our children first introduced to complicated financial concepts and contracts by teachers who love them and who are trying to help them, not by someone trying to trick them. Relying on the school of hard knocks should not be an option anymore. It is time a step is added in the ladder to empower future generations to make wise and informed financial choices. Personal Finance should be integrated into every child’s K-12 educational experience, and a course in Personal Finance should be a semester-long high school graduation requirement.